Workout inspiration

A couple years ago, my then-winter boo and I were hanging out at his place — as winter boos do on an especially cold winter evening. Snuggling on the couch, we started watching “The Biggest Loser.” I got so into the show that when he fell asleep, I found more episodes on demand and kept watching. When he woke up, I had tears streaming down my face.

I love watching people committed to changing their lives. The contestants are so dedicated to making a change that they spend weeks away from home and push themselves to their limits every day. I find myself cheering them on and celebrating their accomplishments. I’m disappointed when they are disappointed.

I consider myself really lucky that I never struggled with my weight, but I certainly know what it’s like to wake up and realize what I am doing isn’t working and I need a change. But extreme weight loss makes for better TV than someone chatting it up with a life coach.

In any case, cheers to everyone who did the work. It’s so worth it. And so inspiring to watch. How can I, a healthy, fit individual, sit on the sofa while others are struggling to flip tractor tires at the ranch? With that, I’ll go for a run.

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A slight addiction

It’s Workout Wednesday! Let’s talk about workout attire.

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Organizing the bottoms: Crops, pants and shorts.

I remember exactly when it happened. I was taking yoga in New York’s Fashion District. Imagine immaculately dressed fashion models and designers in yoga class. Cute hair. Cute clothes. Cute pedicures.

I was there, too. Dressed in my usual cropped running tights and t-shirt. Hair in a ponytail. Toes I painted myself.

Nothing wrong with that, but I loved all the outfits I saw around me. It was a place for color and crazy designs among the all-black Manhattan uniform. Over the next three years, I watched for sales at Athleta. I shopped the annual Under Armour sample sale. My outfits for bootcamp, yoga, a riverside run or soccer games became more and more adorable.

Now that I work from home, I have repurposed yoga clothes as comfy work clothes. They’re cute, colorful and perfect if I get stuck and want to go for a quick run, practice my cartwheels in the living room or hit a midday yoga class. I also like to try cute twisted hairstyles instead of a basic pony. Hey, whatever it takes to get motivated to move, right?

I also live in a neighborhood near Seattle’s outdoor gym AKA Green Lake. Yoga, barre and CrossFit studios are plentiful here. As are running shoe, exercise gear and natural food stores. It’s perfectly normal and acceptable to wear running tights as pants here.

My coffee or lunch runs happen as often in space-dyed blue yoga pants or down-filled “toasty buns” shorts over leggings as in my skinny jeans and high-heeled lace-up boots. I love them all equally. And I still do my own pedis.

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My workout clothes drawer is a leeeeetle overstuffed

 

 

Work it

Years ago, my aunt, the massage therapist, told me that your muscles are like Play-Doh. When they’re not worked, they get stiff. If you start massaging them and moving them, they become soft and pliable again.

I have a desk job, which makes it really hard not to get stiff. I make a point of walking to the kitchen or bathroom (each trip is 250+ steps round trip). I also go to the gym or workout about four times a week. On days I don’t hit the gym, I like to compensate with extra walking. I like to end the work week with a Friday night yoga class.

I just know my body and how it makes me feel. I also know how crabby I get when I haven’t gotten my move time in.

And I admit to typing this with a bag of peas on my lower back. I took a long break from running. I just decided I don’t like it that much, but three weeks ago, I started taking Run, Yogi, Run, a class at my gym that includes running intervals and yoga. I love the class! I feel so powerful after running the intervals.

Screenshot of "23 and 1/2 Hours" from Evans Health Lab
Screenshot of “23 and 1/2 Hours” from Evans Health Lab

I was very interested to see this headline on NPR today A YouTube Video Is Doctor’s Secret Weapon Against Back Pain and wanted to share it with you all.

Check out the 23.5 hours video. I found it amazing. Think of all you can do in 23.5 hours a day!

Don’t be boring

Started from the bottom now we're here.
Started from the bottom now we’re here.

One thing I learned in my 20 weeks of Spanish class was “soy aburrida,” which means “I’m the boring kind of person.”

My biggest fear is leading a boring life. In fact, I’ve instructed some close friends to shoot me if/when the most exciting thing I have to talk about is a trip to Target. I want to do interesting things and challenge myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t like a comfy evening at home because I do appreciate those as well. I’ve come to realize I need more adventure and adventurous people in my life. I wrote a list of things I want to do this spring or summer or maybe next year when I’ve saved more cash *cough Europe *cough. Anyone want in? Anyone want to add to the list?

  • Hike
  • Trapeze class
  • Day trip to Boston.
  • Road trip to Maine
  • Road trip to the Carolinas
  • Multi-week trip through Europe
  • Zipline
  • Run the Tunnel to Towers 5K
  • Non-gym rock climbing
  • Visit Statue of Liberty’s Crown
  • Move back to the Northwest
  • Run, walk or bike the entire Burke-Gilman

Get to stepping

Bougie alerted me that yesterday’s post did not publish properly, so it’s Workout Thursday instead.

Happy #Workout Wednesday! Today let’s talk about the benefits of walking.

I live in New York City. I walk a ton. I easily get the recommended 10,000 steps a day, right?

Wrong!

It’s harder than you’d think!today

My commute is 1,428 steps each way.

Each time I walk to the kitchen or bathroom at the office and back to my desk adds about 300 steps.

By the time I get home from work, I’m somewhere around 5,000 steps. That means I have to go out of my way to get 5,000 more. Getting off the train a stop early and walking home doesn’t do it. Not even close.

My gym is 23 blocks away from my apartment. That 18-minute walk is 1,768 steps. Double that and now we’re getting closer to goal.

MondayWhat’s the deal with 10K, you ask? The advice of the US Surgeon General is that it takes about 10,000 steps per day to maintain your current weight. Of course, if you prefer biking, kayaking or dancing, by all means, do that instead.

The benefits of walking include maintaining a healthy weight, preventing heart disease, high blood pressure and type-2 diabetes. It also strengthens bones, lifts mood and improves balance and coordination, according to the Mayo Clinic.
I have a few improvements I’d make to the Fitbit, if I were an engineer who knew how to do such things: Have it track heart rate. I can sweat it out in a tough yoga or spinning class and add no steps. Carrying my laptop, laundry or 4-year-old nephew up the stairs and it gives no extra credit. A step is just a step regardless of exertion.

The Surgeon General recommends 30 minutes of heart-elevating exercise per day. Now, this doesn’t mean if you only have 15 minutes, you shouldn’t do anything. Remember the simple rule: Any is better than none.

But if you’re looking for a motivational tool, I recommend Fitbit. It isn’t perfect, but it has me motivated. I can challenge my friends (want to challenge me? Here’s my page), but my main goal is to be better than I was yesterday, last week or last month.

sleepFitbit also tracks sleep, which I find fascinating. I tap it when I go to bed. It uses my movement to detect whether I’m sleeping or tossing and turning. I tap it again when I wake up. Then I can log on to my account to see how many hours I got, and how many times I was awake or restless at night. I generally fall asleep within a few minutes of tapping and tend to wake up after 7 hours, 15-30 minutes.

You can also enter your food intake for the day and Fitbit gives you a report of calories in vs. calories burnt.

Getting motivated

This #WorkoutWednesday, it’s all about finding motivation during the worst month of the year.

Another round of snow is threatening to dump on New York tomorrow, so I’m making sure I get to the gym tonight.

It’s been a long, harsh winter. For being the shortest month, February sure is hanging around longer than it should, don’t you think? I’m eager to get back outside, but for now I’m really trying to keep my workout motivation up. My brain is telling me it would be great to order pizza, make chocolate chip cookies and bury myself under my covers all evening. My body is telling me to get moving. Here are my tricks:

  1. My Fitbit is tracking me. I can’t hit my goal of 10,000 steps per day without special effort. I can bundle up to penguin-walk on ice or to trudge through snow or just go to the gym. I’ll take the gym.
  2. I pay for a gym membership, and I love my gym. I like to do what I call “gym math.” I take my monthly fees ($73) and divide by the number of times I go each month. I want that number to be around $5 per visit.
  3. I found gym classes and teachers I like and go to them. I mix in strength, cardio and yoga. Crunch is a big gym, but if I go to the same class each week, I feel like I’m missed when I’m not there.
  4. I get competitive with myself. I just went up to heavier weights in Weigh Hard Cardio class. I want to log more workouts this month than I did last month, etc.
  5. I do core work at home on workout days when I can’t get to the gym.
  6. I schedule it. Since I have my core classes I go to each week, it’s easy for me to schedule other things around it. If I go to Diesel on Monday, I can go to dinner with my friends Tuesday. Kangoo is late Wednesday, so I have time for a meeting right after work.
  7. Sometimes I just force myself to go by remembering how I feel when I don’t work out. After sitting at a desk all day or being cooped up at home, I need to get out, stretch my legs and see people. Skipping that makes for a crabby Candace.

Best Month Ever

It’s so easy to get caught up in what’s wrong, and when I do that, I write a post like this sad December one. When a polar vortex is hitting New York and I have the option to work from home, it’s easy to get stuck in my four walls. That’s not a good place for me.

But January changed everything. Maybe it was the week I spent in Hawaii. Or the fact that Seattleites have descended upon New York for the Super Bowl. Or the tons of good buddy time I’ve gotten. Or that I’ve been working out because I want to — not because I feel like I need Hawaii abs. Or because I’ve been very consciously eating better.

But I’m happy.

Pinch-me, is-this-really-my-life happy. My Seattle friend Tara likes to remind me to take the time to do things that I need to do. (I need to remind her the same.) For me, that means getting out of my apartment, going to yoga class, drinking green tea, listening to music and seeing friends. I did all those things in bulk this month, and I can’t wipe the smile off my face. I’m feeling much more like myself.

Despite two rounds of the polar vortex, I make an effort to take walks & take pics. This is FiDi.
Despite two rounds of the polar vortex, I make an effort to take walks & take pics. This is FiDi.
Someone put their fully decorated tree on the street. It's been there about a month now. Makes me laugh every time I walk by.
Someone put their fully decorated tree on the street. It’s been there about a month now. Makes me laugh every time I walk by.
I was so happy to be in Seattle for the Seahawks' Division Championship game. The city was bathed in blue & highlighter green.
I was so happy to be in Seattle for the Seahawks’ Division Championship game. The city was bathed in blue & highlighter green. #GoHawks
Tara gives Penny a high-five while mama Heather looks on. Love me some buddy time.
Tara gives Penny a high-five while mama Heather looks on. Love me some buddy time.
Brunch with my girls at Pike Place.
Brunch with my girls at Pike Place.
This was my backyard for six glorious days on Oahu.
This was my backyard for six glorious days on Oahu.
Ohana means family, and these two will always be my family now.
Ohana means family, and these two will always be my family now.
I've had so much fun carrying this flag around NYC.
I’ve had so much fun carrying this flag around NYC.
I went to Puppy Bowl Experience! Puppies!
I went to Puppy Bowl Experience! Puppies!
Giant slide in Times Square = Awesomeness!
Giant slide in Times Square = Awesomeness!
It's been two weeks of trash talking, but we still love each other.
It’s been two weeks of trash talking, but we still love each other.

No vacation from exercise

Workout Wednesday is colliding with Hawaii Week on the Living Life Big blog!

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I’m all about being active on vacation without it making it feel like work. Hikes to lookout spots, walking through major cities and paddleboarding through turquoise water are some of my favorites.

Hawaii would be a fantastic place for a weight-loss camp. The food is so fresh, light and healthy. My friends and I started our days with protein-packed scrambled eggs with veggies tossed in most mornings to power our activities. We noshed on shrimp, fish tacos, sushi, fruit and salads later. We didn’t snack a whole lot because we were so busy running around and getting distracted by gorgeous sights that we forgot about eating. We didn’t crave heavy comfort foods, but we did indulge in mai tais and ice cream.

Hawaii also has endless fitness activities. Even hauling gear on uneven sand or rocks to the beach was a workout. We also rented boards and kayaks, snorkeled with fish, took a hula lesson, splashed around our backyard pool, hiked a crater and practiced yoga poses on the dock. We followed my friend Nicole’s lead and practiced yoga everywhere.

I declare Operation Aloha a huge success.

Workout Wednesday: Time to jump!

It’s Workout Wednesday again! I haven’t played in a while.

I still remember my first time. I put on the boots and it took me a couple failures to figure out how to stand up. I took a few hesitant steps, which turned into hops, which turned into full-on jumping.

Kangoo Jumps is a low-impact, easy -on-the-joints and ridiculously fun workout. Kangoo refers to the bouncy boots you wear to class. Once you have them on, you can run, jump, dance and if you’re feeling really strong, do lunges and squats.

This Saturday I went to a new Kangoo Jumps class at one of my gym’s Lower Manhattan locations. Since it was a cold Saturday morning, only three of us showed up for the class and we rocked it out. We threw some hip action in. We all had big smiles on our faces.

At the end of the class, one of the ladies admitted she couldn’t keep up with the choreography. The other participant and I agreed.

The teacher, however, was reassuring. You guys were great, she said. Even if you didn’t know what you were doing, you did something and you did it with a little attitude and a big smile. She went on to say that pleased her more than if we had taken it too seriously and tried to get it all without missing a beat.

I really appreciated her reassuring words. I’m not too bothered by not knowing the next move or missing some steps. Sometimes when Navani and I go to Pound with the Brooklyn girls (who have more rhythm than us Manhattan girls), I joke that I need to stand in the back, behind a column, but I don’t honestly feel that way. Since it’s January, National Return to the Gym Month, I remind you that everyone has to have a first, second and third time. Everyone is going to miss steps – even if they’ve been coming months. Everyone is going to get off beat. Everyone is going to have a bad day. It’s not a big deal. The only time it’s a big deal is if you make it one or if you quit.

One sign of a good group fitness teacher, in my opinion, is at the beginning of class they give you permission to modify when needed. If you can’t jump, step. If you can’t do squats, march. If you can’t do a full push-up, do it on your knees. If you can’t do it at tempo, do it slower. Just do something. Don’t stop. I’ve been going to a class for a couple months now where we do 100 push-ups in the hour. I’ve yet to do a real push-up, but I’m doing something and getting closer.

Kangoo boots also make awesome weights on your feet. Imagine doing legs-in-the-air crunches while wearing roller skates. Yeah, that’s the effect. This workout might be fun, but it’ll also make you sweat.

Welcome, 2014!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’ve been editing New Year’s content for a couple weeks now and thinking about what I would resolve to do. You might know this about me, but I like to improve myself all year round. I rather obsess about accomplishing and am disappointed in myself when I don’t cross goals off my list early and often. I’ve been really good about not eating gluten (not any since Christmas Day!), but last night I had a dream that I ordered quesadillas while I was out and they came on flour tortillas. I felt like a failure in my dream. Hopefully I wouldn’t react like that in the light of day, but the truth is I might.

Here are my goals for 2014.

  1. Stop focusing on the end result and enjoy the ride.
  2. Work on core and arm strength.
  3. Eat more veggies and protein.
  4. Eat less processed foods.
  5. Be more forgiving of myself and others.
  6. Go zip-lining.
  7. Find a fulfilling new job.
  8. Read more, social media less.

 

Here are a couple of my favorite articles from the last couple of weeks, if you need ideas for your own resolutions.

13 weight-loss resolutions you shouldn’t make

10 better-for-you resolutions